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Year 2001 No. 92, May 30, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Labour is the Party of Business

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Labour is the Party of Business

Labour’s NHS Plans Will Increase Inequalities

NAHT Say Teachers Should Share in School Profits

The Strategic Alliance on Our Doorstep

Overproduction Crisis at Nissan in Sunderland

Rail Workers Vote in Strike Ballot

NATO Parliamentary Assembly Meets

Summits on NATO and EU

Russia Denies Reports of Arms Deal

G-15 Summit Opens in Indonesia

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Labour is the Party of Business

In launching its business manifesto yesterday, New Labour staked its claim for the business vote, underlining that it should be considered as the party of business.

Aware of the irony and absurdity that a party that calls itself the Labour Party should make the claim of being the business party, Tony Blair tried to explain that it was possible for Labour to be both the party of business and the party of the worker. Whose interests does it represent? Can it represent the interests of business in the global markets yet be a mass party of the workers? The only way to answer this question is to say that if the workers’ aim is to line up behind their exploiters, behind making "their" business successful in the global world of cut-throat imperialist competition, behind the bourgeoisie’s programme of making Britain number one in the globalisation race, then, yes, the Labour Party could be both the party of business and the party of the worker. If the workers’ aim is emancipate themselves and the whole of society, to constitute themselves the nation and vest sovereignty in the people, to run the economy in a planned way so that the people’s needs are the central concern, then such a thing is not possible.

The workers need a revolutionary party that is at the same time a mass workers’ party, but it hardly needs emphasising that this cannot be a party which is concerned to bolster its reputation as the party which has the endorsement of leading business figures. A Labour Party which is a Business Party standing against the aim of socialism would seem to be the biggest contradiction imaginable, yet this is what Tony Blair is claiming the Labour Party to be in order to get elected.

The business strategy outlined in the manifesto is straightforwardly to focus on how the Labour Party will serve business in its second term. Education is further to serve the needs of business. Education packages that were "tailor-made" would be offered to inward investment companies. The "enterprise culture" would be widened and deepened so that not only the "penalties of failure" are lower but the "rewards of success are higher". Gordon Brown said that Labour’s plans are to "double the number of enterprise classes taught in schools and our programme for business mentoring will ensure that every child has exposure to entrepreneurship and enterprise".

Labour is to allegedly provide the economic stability that business needs, building on its framework for economic management (giving independence to the Bank of England, etcetera). Mergers, which up until now have been considered dangerous to the public interest as representing the trend towards monopoly, restructuring and the domination of markets, will, in a new enterprise bill, be removed from the political decisions of government ministers. "Mergers will be judged by … whether competition and the consumer are harmed, taking account of globalisation’s impact." This is to say, as is spelt out in the manifesto, that the regulators will take success in global markets into account as the primary concern in considering their expediency. There will be only a light touch from Whitehall when it comes to the information companies are required to give on director’s pay. Britain is to be made into "the world’s leading online nation".

Labour’s business manifesto only emphasises the necessity to build the workers’ opposition to New Labour’s "Third Way" programme.

Article Index



Labour’s NHS Plans Will Increase Inequalities

A group of senior health professionals has warned that New Labour’s plans to give the private sector a greater role in running the NHS would hit the care of the most vulnerable patients.

In a letter to The Independent, eight health experts have warned of their "grave concern that current government policies will increase the very inequalities which the government is committed to reducing".

The health professionals say in their letter: "New Labour’s election manifesto and other recent proposals … are merely the latest in a series of policy changes effectively preparing the NHS for large-scale privatisation. We are keenly aware of the inequalities which inevitably result when private profits join health gain as the major goal of health services."

They say that the high cost of PFI means that money is being channelled from patient care into the "coffers of business".

The letter points out, "New Labour claims to have abolished the inequitable ‘internal market’; our concern is that it has substituted the real market."

The signatories include Sir Douglas Black, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians, and George Davey Smith, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bristol.

Article Index



NAHT Say Teachers Should Share in School Profits

The National Association of Head Teachers at its annual conference in Harrogate has heard calls for schools run by private firms to share profits with teachers.

These calls come amid growing concern about the role of the private sector in education, and it is reported that this issue is set to dominate the conference. The argument being presented is that if the aim of the private sector is to increase profits and bonuses to these private companies and their directors by focusing on "results", then the teaching staff should also share in the rewards.

The NAHT general secretary David Hart also warned that schools need an extra 40,000 teachers to bring Britain up to world standards. He has issued a stark warning to the next government that members would take "unilateral action" unless teacher workload was reviewed, saying that if it does not "come up with satisfactory solutions" to "teacher shortages, workload, bureaucracy, pressure, the 35-houtr week and non-contact time" then there will be a "very concerted move by heads and senior colleagues to take unilateral action to cut workload in any way that they think fit".

David Hart pointed out: "The message I am getting is that heads are tired of papering over the cracks, they don’t like ministers saying there is no teacher recruitment crisis when they know that there is and their goodwill has been stretched to breaking point."

Article Index



The Strategic Alliance on Our Doorstep

Tony Blair told Sky News on May 29, "I think for Britain to absent itself from the European Union, to come out of the key strategic alliance on our doorstep, would be a disaster."

He went on to say that he believes it is possible for Britain to pursue economic co-operation with others in a new global economy without surrendering national identity.

Which national identity is Tony Blair referring to? The reality is that he is referring to the interests of the English bourgeoisie. In essence, the issue is what will best serve the interests of this bourgeoisie, to strengthen ties with the EU, to strengthen ties with US imperialism, both, neither, to re-develop Britain’s colonial ties?

Tony Blair regards the European Union as a key strategic alliance on Britain’s doorstep. In other words, it is a military, political and economic superpower, a key player in the agenda of globalisation. He tries to reconcile the various factions of the bourgeoisie by saying that Britain will be made strong through Europe and that it will also represent the interests of US imperialism in Europe.

Article Index



Overproduction Crisis at Nissan in Sunderland

The downturn in European car sales has led to Nissan’s Sunderland car plant to make 30 temporary workers redundant and to prepare to reduce the speed of its production lines to cut output.

The car plant is said to be Europe’s most productive. It made 327,000 cars last year. It had been expected to produce 320,000 during 2001, but this now looks certain to be reduced.

Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK said that a drop in sales volume in Europe was affecting most carmakers, adding that this was a separate issue from that of the currency exchange rate.

The next-generation Nissan Micra, due for launch in 2003, was won for the Sunderland plant by the pledge of the 555 formula: having 5,000 workers, working 5,000 factory hours a year and building 500,000 cars a year.

Article Index



Rail Workers Vote in Strike Ballot

Rail workers of the RMT union are being balloted over the issue of the safety duties of guards. Workers from 24 companies are voting on whether to take industrial action.

The RMT has published a survey showing "deep opposition" from the public to running trains without fully trained guards.

Bob Crow, RMT’s assistant general secretary, said that the survey showed clearly that people know that guards save lives. "The guard on the Great Western train involved in the Paddington crash was rightly praised for his role in helping passengers. How much worse would that accident have been without a guard on board?" he said. "The RMT stands should to shoulder with passengers in demanding higher safety standards on our railway," he emphasised.

Article Index



NATO Parliamentary Assembly Meets

More than 300 lawmakers from the 19 NATO member states and 16 of the 17 "Partnership for Peace" countries gathered in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on May 27 for the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Russia decided not to attend saying the participating could have been interpreted as signifying Russian approval of NATO expansion.

At the gathering, Lithuanian Defence Minister Linas Linkevicius said that his country’s efforts to gain NATO membership were in no way directed against Russia’s legitimate security interests. He claimed that although the simultaneous invitation of all three Baltic countries to join NATO would be the best solution, the admission of at least one state would be seen as a positive step.

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Summits on NATO and EU

A two-day summit began in Budapest on May 28 of NATO and EU foreign ministers. The Hungarian government assured NATO Secretary-General George Robertson that Hungary intends to continue to be a stabilising force in the region.

An anti-NATO demonstration took place in Budapest at the opening of the summit. Some 40 people from the Alba Circle group hung a large banner on Budapest’s Chain Bridge, which showed NATO’s symbol and referred to it as a "Death Star". The demonstration was broken up by the Hungarian police.

On May 28 in Dubrovnik, Croatian President Stipe Mesic opened a four-day regional conference on integration into the EU and NATO. The Croatian President also asserted that the countries of Southeast Europe must make economic progress before there can be peace in the region. Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula said that the development Croatia’s democracy depended most on regional co-operation and internal consolidation.

Article Index



Russia Denies Reports of Arms Deal

It has been rumoured that the US would offer to purchase arms from Russia in exchange for Moscow’s agreement to scrap the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The US wants to do away with the AMB Treaty in order to push ahead with its "Son of Star Wars" programme.

However, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov on Monday denied these reports, saying, "If such proposals come, I am sure that they will not solve the AGM issue."

He also reiterated that Russia continued to be opposed to abandoning the ABM treaty, saying that 32 arms control agreements included references to it. The Russian Defence Minister said, "You cannot take a brick out of a wall and hope it will stand. It will come tumbling down, and it’s impossible to forecast the consequences."

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G-15 Summit Opens in Indonesia

Foreign Ministers from Asia, Africa and Latin America opened their G-15 Summit in Indonesia on May 28 amid the political turmoil of the host nation.

Countries participating at the summit are: India, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The Group of 15 is an affiliation of 19 developing countries.

The Summit will address technological co-operation, debt relief and how the countries can play a stronger role in world financial institutions.

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